I've finally hosted my first little dinner party at the boy's, sorry OUR, house here in TO (he likes me to call it our house and I'm getting there). Yes I've been here almost 6 months and I'm not sure what my excuse is for not doing it sooner. Much is attributed to the brutal winter that, although I grew up in it, I just wasn't quite prepare, then there is the instability of the film industry during an almost actors strike (that has finally been resolved) and mainly moving into a house that was truly a bachelor pad and not a home has been the biggest stumbling block. I need a home and moving up here and going right to work and then on any long weekend or break heading out of town didn't exactly offer the time necessary to transform a bachelor pad, with little furniture and whole ton of clutter into a home.
As it has warmed up and motivation has increased, about a week ago I told the boy I invited some friends over for dinner. His face initially dropped as he looked around our living room and at our dining table, with no chairs. I told him not to worry we had the time needed to get it together. Some progress had been made over my time here, but we (and more specifically he) needed that extra push, that deadline and pressure of a set time when we would have guests. A day of cleaning and trips to IKEA, Home Outfitters, Rona and Wal-Mart later we had a proper home. While it's rental with awful light fixtures and pink carpet, it finally feels like a home. A home we are both comfortable having friends over to.
After putting in all that work I needed to put together a meal fitting our cozy place. I was up for the challenge having not cooked for anyone other than the boy and I in almost 6 months I had all kinds of ideas stored up. I decided to start with two different types of crostini, simple in preparation but big on flavor. The first one is inspired by Nancy Silverton's Crostini with White Bean Puree and Rosemary Olive Oil. Below is how I did it, with a link to the original recipe
Crostini with White Bean Puree and Rosemary Olive Oil
inspired by by Nancy Silverton's recipe
(for the rosemary olive oil)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
(for the white bean puree)
1 15-ounce can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
(for the crostini)
1/2 inch thick slices of baguette
1 cup arugula
good olive oil
aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
To make the rosemary olive oil, combine the olive oil and rosemary in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and continue to gently simmer the oil until the rosemary sizzles. Turn off the heat and let the rosemary steep in the oil for 1 hour.
To make the crostini, place the bread slices on a baking sheet, brush with the olive oil and place oiled side down on a grill heated to medium low. Brush the other side with more olive oil and flip after 2-3 minutes or when you see the edges getting nice and toasty. Get the second side nice and toasty and remove to baking sheet.
To make the white bean puree, combine the beans, 2/3 cup of the rosemary olive oil, garlic and kosher salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle or in a medium bowl and using a potato masher, mash everything together until everything is combined. The texture should still be slightly chunky.
To assemble the crostini, place a few arugula leaves on each crostino and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the white bean puree in a generous, even layer, over the arugula. Using the back of the spoon, make a small crater in the puree and spoon in a little of the rosemary olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sea salt.
This became my own version mostly because I forgot to rub the crostini with garlic and forgot to drizzle with balsamic! It was delish all the same. So much so that the boy couldn't wait until our guest got to the house, he had me assemble one for him to test and then I think made one more himself! Stay tuned for the other crostini I made (seen in the photo above), prosciutto with melon salsa and the rest of our meal. Enjoy!